FARMINGTON — With district tournaments and the state basketball playoffs ahead, local and regional teams are preparing for the final weeks of the season with greater urgency.
Here’s a look at some of this week’s major matchups involving San Juan County high school basketball teams.
Navajo Prep in Tohatchi, Tuesday, 7 p.m
The Eagles and Cougars will put impressive winning streaks on the line Tuesday night when they meet for the second time of the season at the Eagles Nest on Tuesday night.
Navajo Prep, currently the highest-ranked Class 3A team in the state according to the New Mexico Coaches Poll, has seven straight wins and an unblemished record in six games against District 1-3A competition. Tohatchi, who lost their district opener 69-45 at home to Navajo Prep earlier this month, has won five straight games and has an overall record of 13-7 (4-2 District).
The Eagles’ offense has been on fire lately after 75+ points in four of their last five games, including a 76-24 loss to Zuni last weekend. On average, Navajo Prep has outscored its district opponents by 75-36.
Sandia at Farmington, Saturday 2:30 p.m
The Scorpions, who picked up a big win at home to La Cueva last weekend, will look to make a big push towards a higher seeding in the upcoming district tournament this week.
Cody Vassar-Steen, the team’s top scorer, had a great night against La Cueva, scoring 18 points as the Scorpions earned their first win over their District 2-5A rivals, defeating the Bears 78-62. But Vassar-Steen has some company on the scorers’ list as Hayden Begay lost 16 points for Farmington and was joined in double digits by Trel Griego with 13 and Landon Begay who scored 10 points.
“I’ve been telling people these guys are playing better,” said head coach Larry-Don Chitty. “We played a suffocating defense against La Cueva for three quarters, then we had some big 3 points and free throws to seal it.”
Chitty looked to get the team out of a negative mood early last week after opening the district campaign with three straight losses.
“Mentally we needed a win against one of those teams,” said Chitty. “We were obviously down after a couple of losses so we just decided to play dodgeball in practice one day and the lads looked like they still had some fighting to do.”
The Scorpions gave up their earlier clash against Sandia in a 79-59 final en route to the opening of the district season on January 17th. Farmington lies 7-0 with the Matadors in a rivalry that dates back to 2016.
Farmington in Piedra Vista, Tuesday, 7 p.m
Broadly speaking, this might look like a mismatch. The Lady Scorpions have won 11 straight games and are currently second in both MaxPreps and the New Mexico Coaches Poll with a record of 19-1 in Class 5A.
Piedra Vista is yet to win a district game this season and is 6-14 overall and maintaining a six-game losing streak.
But rivalry games can be tricky and a Lady Panthers home win on Tuesday night would be a highlight for the team.
Piedra Vista has the advantage in the series as she has beaten Farmington 33 times since 2006. And while the Lady Scorpions have won three of their last four meetings, Piedra Vista topped their most recent encounter last year in what was the final game of the regular season for both teams.
Navajo Prep in Tohatchi, Wednesday, 7 p.m
The Lady Eagles already have a district win against Tohatchi at home on Jan. 21, beating the Lady Cougars in a 52-40 final. Navajo Prep is currently the state’s highest-ranked team in Class 3A, going 5-0 in District 1-3A and having eight straight games won.
Tohatchi, 12-7 overall (4-1 district), has been putting together a good series of games lately. They have won five of their last six and are led by junior Brooke Badonie, who is averaging more than 13 points per game this season.